In Memoriam: Lock Miller, founder of Marmot Mountain Works

"An outdoor industry business icon that reveled in both popularity and humorous infamy."

Steve Christie, director of sales at Backcountry Access, reflects on the life of Lock Miller.

Lock Miller passed away peacefully on Sept. 30, after a four-year bout with prostate cancer. For those not familiar with Lock, he can best be described as an outdoor industry business icon that reveled in both popularity and humorous infamy.

Most people know Lock from his days as the owner of the Marmot Mountain Works retail store chain that dominated the west coast specialty retail scene from 1976 to 2013. In the early years these stores were some of the few places in North America where people could purchase or order obscure alpine touring equipment that was only available in Europe at the time. It should also be noted that Lock was the first importer and distributor of the Dynafit binding and Pomoca skin brands in North America during the early 1990s, predicting and preparing for the massive boom in backcountry skiing popularity that is realized today.

Lock was also a partner in establishing the Marmot brand and was one of the first testers of Gore-tex coats and sleeping bags in 1976 while on a 3.5 week ski traverse of the Juneau ice fields. His interest in the Juneau ice fields began upon completion of high school when he was chosen as a field assistant for the Juneau Icefield Research Program with the Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research. More information on that program can be found here:

Lock’s other accomplishments are storied and hint at a life lead as a 20th and 21st century renaissance figure: youngest Outward Bound Instructor in 1968 piloting the program for teenage courses, earned one third of a law degree but left law school for the outdoors, explored remote Yukon rivers by boat, caught copious amounts of Chinook (King) Salmon over the last 50 years all over the north Pacific coast, and generally enjoyed a life well-lived in the Pacific Northwest. But this is really only a glimpse into what we know about Lock. His close friends point out that he was willing to stop what he was doing at any given moment and help problem-solve complex business situations regardless of the industry. His loyalty to his friends was also described as being one of his main attributes. And it is agreed that Lock’s thrifty, shrewd and intelligent business practices made him very successful during his career in the outdoor business.

I will leave you with this quote by Lock from Aug. 28, 2015, that sums up his attitude about life:

“If your boat only has a 600-pound weight limit you can get 2,000 pounds into it if you know what you’re doing.”